How can I be a better
writer? It's a question students have asked me for many years. The answer is
not a simple one, especially since, oftentimes, a student looks to me for a
solution, a formula, a magic trick.
There is no magic
involved. Writing is real work, hard and strenuous, frustrating and
demoralizing, beautiful and uplifting. All without any real
guarantee of success. I know this because I am a writer.
I use my tools to try (and
I do mean try) to reach others in print. When successful—and believe
me when I share my writing in classes I am not always a success—there is no
better feeling in the world. Success creates a kind of sound, a sigh or
collective expiration of breath, that lets me know that my words have had an
effect on others.
So, what tools do I
recommend? Here are a few (though offered without, as usual, any guarantee)
that might, just might, help one of you become a little bit better as a
writer one day.
Tool One: Patience
Writing is slow work. Be patient and expect no miracles.
Writing is no place for a quitter. Come back to your writing repeatedly. See
it in a new light. Give the words a chance.
Tool Three: Trust
Your reader reads. Use words to reach that reader. Trust them to read well
but make it easy for them, please. You win more trust if you show a reader
you are careful with words.
The writer is often dissatisfied with a word, goes looking for a better one,
and tinkers with sentences as much as possible. Where can I find a new word,
the writer will ask? Can I imitate that sentence? There is no end to the
resources of the written word!
If you are interested
further in my opinions on writing, view my
Writing Tips, notes from my
Writing Practice Tutorials,
and my Advanced Composition Worksheet
Thank you for reading (and
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